Stanford vs. Colorado prediction and game preview. Projecting who wins Saturday night’s matchup between the Cardinal and Buffaloes.
When: Saturday, Oct. 22 – 3:00 p.m. ET
Where: Stanford Stadium, Stanford, California
TV Broadcast: Pac-12 Network
What started out with three straight wins for Stanford (4-2) quickly evened out with back-to-back losses to Washington and Washington State. However, last weekend, David Shaw’s Cardinal righted the ship and got back on the winning track. Stanford visited Notre Dame in South Bend and took down the Fighting Irish, 17-10. The Cardinal trailed, 10-0, at halftime, but it scored 17 unanswered points in the second half to take the win.
The 2016 campaign has gone much differently for Mike MacIntyre’s guys. The Buffaloes attacked Michigan early in Ann Arbor but ended up losing after Sefo Liufau went down with an injury. Colorado went 2-1 in its next three games, but this past weekend tacked on yet another victory for the Buffaloes. They hosted Arizona State and took down the Sun Devils easily, 40-16.
It’s been a long, long time since Colorado last beat Stanford in 1990. Since then, the Cardinal has won the last five meetings and now lead the all-time series, 6-3. Stanford won last year’s matchup in Boulder, 42-10.
What To Know About Stanford
The health of Christian McCaffrey has clearly been an issue. The star running back was stifled in the losses to Washington and Wazzu, and he was held out of the Notre Dame game with a leg injury. If he can’t go, the Cardinal may be set up for a trap game here. After all, we’re talking about 5.2 rushing yards per carry and 8.5 receiving yards per catch being removed from the offense. Quarterback Ryan Burns has been serviceable, but completing 10-of-19 passes for 120 yards with an interception like he did against the Irish simply won’t get it done.
We could see a lot more of Bryce Love if McCaffrey is out. He filled in nicely with 23 carries and 129 rushing yards last week, but it was the defense that really stepped up and clinched the win. Quenton Meeks returned from injury and recorded a 50-yard pick six, which was followed by a safety in the third quarter. And the go-ahead score came when JJ Arcega-Whiteside returned a fumble for a touchdown. Love punched in the two-point conversion, and Stanford hung on.
What to Know About Colorado
Steven Montez filled in nicely for Liufau by completing 62.9 percent of his passes for nine touchdowns and 940 passing yards, but he got banged up, and Liufau took the reins of the offense once last weekend. He threw for 265 yards on 23-of-31 passing against Arizona State, but his only score came on the ground via a three-yard touchdown run. Liufau ended up with 38 yards on 14 carries.
The real offensive threat for the Buffaloes was tailback Phillip Lindsay, who was given 26 carries and rushed for 219 yards. Lindsay broke into the end zone three times, including a 75-yard touchdown run to open up the third quarter. On the season, Lindsay has rushed for 614 yards and nine touchdowns.
Offense: Colorado – Stanford is ranked No. 125 in total offense, and its most important weapon is hurt. Meanwhile, the Buffaloes are No. 13 with an average of 515.3 yards of total offense per game.
Defense: Colorado – The Buffaloes are giving up 314.1 yards per game, the 15th fewest in the country.
Special Teams: Colorado – McCaffrey is a key cog in the return game, and Conrad Ukropina has missed as many field goals (3) as Davis Price, Diego Gonzalez and Chris Graham have combined for the Buffaloes.
Coaching: Stanford – Despite the record, Shaw is still a great head coach, and his staff is well put together.
Matchup To Watch
Phillip Lindsay vs. Bryce Love
That explosive performance from Lindsay last time out might have been an outlier. It was the first time this season he was given more than 20 carries and the first time he rushed for more than 100 yards since Sept. 26, 2015, against Nicholls State. But if it wasn’t a fluke, and Lindsay really has the hot hand, Stanford could be in for some trouble. To counter, Love (or McCaffrey) will have to make the most of his (their) touches. The Cardinal will need to keep both Lindsay and Liufau off the field and control the clock by pounding the football because it’s not likely Burns will have a breakout game.
Spread: Stanford -2
Stanford vs. Colorado Prediction
Things have been rocky for Stanford lately. Having Meeks back at cornerback is a big deal, but we have no idea how banged up McCaffrey is or if he’ll even be able to suit up. The Cardinal already lost one home game this season, and it will lose another with this matchup against Colorado. The Buffaloes have been playing great, and Liufau is too much of a threat both on the ground and in the air for Stanford to contain. Lindsay won’t have a huge game, but he’ll provide some help in the running game and move the chains. Stanford will claw back from an early deficit, but Colorado will end up on top.
Stanford vs. Colorado Score Prediction: Colorado 38, Stanford 34